Drama As Senate Rejects Taraba Ministerial Nominee
mild drama played out at the Senate chamber Tuesday, as Senator Aisha Alhassan (Taraba North) took to the floor and danced excitedly when the upper chamber rejected the nomination of Dr. Obadiah Ando, her state’s ministerial nominee.
Ando, the immediate past Minister of Water Resources, was one of the six ministerial nominees screened by the senators Tuesday.
The remaining five were cleared, bringing the total number of ministerial nominees confirmed so far to 37.
Alhassan, who last week, led her two other colleagues, Senators Emmanuel Bwacha (Taraba South) and Abubakar Tutare (Taraba Central) to publicly denounce Ando’s nomination, was obviously satisfied at what observers described as “the obvious collapse of high-wired politicking to rail-road the nominee through the crucible of the upper chamber”.
The Taraba lawmakers had cited the objection of their constituents to the confirmation of Ando’s nomination based on his non-performance when he was Minister of Water Resources in the last administration as well as his inaccessibility to the people of the state.
By the Senate's rule, for a ministerial nominee to scale the screening hurdle, his nomination must be supported by at least two of the senators representing the state where he comes from.
When confronted later on why she was jubilating inside the chamber, Alhassan said: “I am happy because Ando’s rejection is a victory for Taraba people”, adding that “Mr President has been magnanimous enough to have dropped the nominee last week in deference to the people’s outcry, but he went to lodge complaint that he was not given fair hearing. And now that he has been given fair hearing, you can see what has happened”.
Last Thursday when Ando was to have been screened, he was skipped and Senate President David Mark simply said the nominee “was withdrawn”, giving the impression that his case had been closed. It was however a surprise Tuesday when Ando’s name appeared on the Senate’s Order Paper as one of the last batch of nine ministerial nominees to be screened.
Others who were screened were Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe (Benue State), Mr. Edem Duke (Cross River), Mr. Nysom Wike (Rivers) Ms. Ama Pepple (Rivers) and Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia (Kaduna). Others who were also listed but whose screening was deferred to Wednesday, are, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed (Jigawa), Mrs. Omobola Olubusola (Ondo) and Dr. Mohammed Pate (Bauchi).
Taking his turn after Ocekpe, Ando, amid obvious unease and palpable disquiet in the hallowed chamber, reeled out his biographical data and achievements in his former office as Minister of Water Resources.
After about 25 minutes of self-adulation, the nominee was simply told to take a bow and go, as no senator indicated readiness to pose any question to him.
To most watchers of the proceedings, this was taken to mean a blank passage for the nominee.But at the end of the screening exercise when the Senate President posed the question as to whether the nomination of Ando should be approved, a thundering “Nay” rang through the Red Chamber, as the senators unanimously blocked the former minister’s bid to return to the federal executive council.
In his remark at the end of the screening session, Mark said the rejection of Ando’s nomination was “a clear indication that it is not everybody who is nominated that would pass the screening test of the Senate”.
Also speaking in the same vein, Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba said Ando’s plight was because he did not put his house in order before presenting himself for the Senate screening.
He said:, “As a nominee,, if you don’t have the support of the senators from your state, you are in trouble”, adding however that “the Senate tried to present him with every opportunity to iron out whatever issue he had with his state’s senators, but apparently he did not help matters”.
Ndoma-Egba, who also gave reason for the non-screening of Dr Akinwunmi Adeshina, the United Nations Agricultural expert last week, said the Ogun State nominee "did not present himself for screening "